It finally happened, I got a Google Wave invite from my good friend and colleague, social media guruess Alin Wagner-Lahmy (feels like being asked to the prom just a week before the big night). For those of you who live under rocks (and you too Mom), Google Wave is the latest innovation from Google Labs.
It allows users to engage in a real-time, editable conversation, which appears on each participants screen. As Google says, email was invented 40-years ago; Google Wave is what email would look like if it was invented today.
That’s great stuff, but think about it: what does email really allow us to do? Whenever a new technology comes along we need to look at the tasks we are doing with old technology and see how the new offering changes that. Here is my simplified list of tasks that can be accomplished with Old-mail (email):
- Sending 1-to-1 communications, similar to letters
- Sending 1-to-group communications, similar to … well email chains
- Filing conversations and information
- Data storage and search
- Advertising, solicitation, and spam
Now what does Google Wave bring to the table that changes all that? For one thing, the 1-to-group communications become a lot smoother. My biggest pet peeve about email is the Reply All snippet. You know the guy. After a detailed starting message, and then maybe an insightful question/reply or two, he sends the simple reply all “thanks,” to which the original message owner replies, “your welcome,” to which snippet guy replies, “can’t wait to get this done,” (still replying all, still clogging everyone’s inbox). But that isn’t even the worst thing about email. Then there is fracture gal. She’s the one who asks an important question, but only to the message originator, so that by the time someone hits reply all to include the rest of us, we have half the conversation and have to send a few messages back and forth just to clarify what we missed.
Google Wave eliminates these issues by keeping a single copy of the conversation for everyone. Edits made to the conversation can be replayed so you never miss anything, but more importantly, there is no clutter b/c everyone participating in the wave sees the same thing. This has so many uses beyond just eliminating clutter and adhering to Inbox Zero principles (look for a future post “GTD with Google Wave”). Some quick applications that come to mind:
- Virtual conference documenting, feedback, and interacting
- Business meeting and classroom note-taking
- Crowdsourcing a book or other projects
- Party and event planning
- Family tree, multimedia albums or mommy books for the kids – invite the grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, et all to Wave on it
- Public Waves proposed legislation … see what the people really think!
This is a new technology. When the wheel came about we had to stop dragging our wagons in the dirt. When the printing press hit, copyist positions and the work of monastic librarians changed forever. After the Internet the third world became the virtual workplace. We must define what Google Wave will do to email. Some places I have sought direction:
- The Complete Guide to Google Wave
- Google Wave Facebook group (type Google Wave into search; scroll past the pages part to join the group with 20K+ members)
- Aardvark – a new Q&A service I am trying out – seems cool